Questions You Should Ask a Family Law Attorney During the Initial Consultation

More than 600,000 couples in the United States end their marriages each year. Though going through a divorce can certainly make you feel alone, rest assured, you’re not. Of course, knowing others are facing similar struggles doesn’t make the situation any less frightening and confusing, does it?

Working with a Cullman family law attorney can help clear up many of the complexities. Having legal counsel means you have an experienced advocate on your side who is willing to walk you through the divorce and fight for your best interests. Knowing which questions to ask during the initial consultation with an attorney can eliminate a great deal of anxiety both now and as you move forward.

Questions to Ask a Family Law Attorney During a Consultation

No doubt, countless questions are circulating through your thoughts right now. Some of them pertain to the divorce itself while others revolve around life after the fact. Consider bringing up the following questions during the initial consultation with a divorce lawyer to bring a bit of order to the chaos plaguing your heart and mind.

Do I Have Acceptable Grounds for Divorce?

Grounds are the reasons for divorcing. Couples dissolve their marriages for numerous reasons. While those may be perfectly reasonable and logical, not all states view them in the same way. Some states allow for no-fault divorces in which no specific grounds are required. Others expect couples to give specific reasons for going their separate ways, and some aren’t considered acceptable as far as the courts are concerned.

Because of that, it’s important to understand exactly which grounds are satisfactory in the eyes of the law. From there, the attorney can weigh them against your reasons for wanting a divorce. If they coincide with the legal prerequisites, you may have a strong case.

Fortunately, Alabama is among the more lenient states in this regard. Additionally, even if your grounds don’t mesh with those considered acceptable, you won’t be denied a divorce. That could affect your child and spousal support and other judgments, though. Discuss this matter with an attorney before proceeding.

How Do You Handle Divorce Cases?

This question is bound to have a multifaceted answer. Still, understanding how an attorney handles divorce cases and all the potential factors involved is essential. Depending on your situation, you may need to know the attorney’s views on and approaches to child custody and visitation, child and spousal support, division of assets, allocation of debts, and other elements.

If the way an attorney handles divorces doesn’t dovetail with your needs and expectations, he or she may not be the right one to take your case. It’s best to discover that during the initial consultation. Finding out in the middle of the divorce process that you and your attorney don’t see eye to eye could lead to delays, more expenses, and many other problems.

What’s the Divorce Process?

Another point to cover with a family law attorney is how the divorce process works. Several general steps enter the mix. It usually begins with filing a divorce petition with the local court. From there, you may need to request temporary court orders for child custody, child support, and other aspects.

Those who file for divorce must have the necessary paperwork served to their spouses as well. Then, proof must be provided to the court that the papers were served. Other measures may also need to be taken before the divorce is finalized.

Having said that, no two divorces are exactly the same. Many legal factors come into play. Once you present your case to an attorney, he or she can consider all the aspects of your divorce. Then, the attorney will be able to explain the necessary steps as they apply to your unique situation.

What Options Do I Have for Resolving Important Matters?

Another question to ask is which options you may have for resolving any points of contention between you and your spouse. Some couples are able to agree on all the important aspects without any real disputes. That can simplify and speed up the process.

Those who can’t come to amicable agreements don’t necessarily have to take their cases to trial with an audience of strangers looking on. Other solutions are available to help iron out the details. For one, you may be able to use an arbitrator.

Arbitrators are private officials who serve the same roles as judges. They make legal decisions regarding custody, visitation, and support; division of debts and assets; and other matters. Arbitration is a less public, more informal alternative to a trial.

Mediation may also be an option. Mediators act as go-betweens to aid couples in settling their disputes. They can’t make judgments in the same way as arbitrators, but they can help couples come to agreements without going to court. A family attorney can let you know which option would be best in your situation and may be able to offer additional alternatives.

What’s Your Current Caseload?

This may seem like an odd and somewhat intrusive question to many people. It’s relevant nonetheless. Asking an attorney about his or her current caseload isn’t unreasonable by any means.

If the attorney has a high volume of cases, you may not be able to receive the attention you need. It could also hamper the one-on-one relationship required to reach a satisfactory outcome and ensure all the important bases are covered. Alternatively, you could ask the attorney what level of priority your case would receive regardless of his or her workload.

What Are Your Rates and Payment Options?

It’s no secret that divorces and attorney fees can be costly. In most cases, consultations are free, so this would be the time to ask about the expenses you could be facing. Inquire about the family attorney’s fees, pay structures, and payment options.

Attorneys may charge clients flat fees or hourly rates, and those may vary widely from one firm to another. Most attorneys require an up front “retainer” as an advance against fees.

Additional charges may arise along the way as well. It’s best to understand the costs involved before moving forward so there won’t be any surprises later on.

Getting the Legal Help You Need During a Divorce

Those are some of the important basic questions to ask a family law attorney during a consultation. They may lead to additional questions as you speak with the lawyer. Don’t hesitate to address any other questions or concerns you may have as well. After all, the more you know going into the situation, the less confusion and anxiety you’ll experience as you proceed.